West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman made a temporary appointment to fill the seat of suspended Justice Allen Loughry.
Workman signed an Administrative Order assigning Judge Paul T. Farrell, of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The assignment will continue until Workman determines that Farrell’s assistance is no longer needed, according to the order.
In the order, Workman cited Loughry’s current suspension as making it necessary to assign a judge to assist the court. Workman also mentioned Justice Menis Ketchum’s recent resignation from the court.
Farrell’s appointment has an added element, in light of the potential impeachment of the remaining four justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court. The House Judiciary Committee recently adopted Articles of Impeachment against Workman, Loughry, Justice Robin Davis, and Justice Beth Walker, to be presented to the House of Delegates. The order said if the Articles of Impeachment proceed to the State Senate, Farrell will be assigned to the position of Acting Chief Justice for the impeachment proceedings.
Workman’s order also stated that Farrell, as Acting Chief Justice, would appoint other justices to preside as needed.
In response to Workman’s order, Walker filed a response to Farrell’s appointment. In that response, Walker said she agrees with Farrell’s selection, calling him “a distinguished jurist with an exemplary record of service to his community and state.” However, Walker said she believes “it is improper to designate any justice as Acting Chief Justice for impeachment proceedings in which I or my colleagues may have an interest and that have not yet commenced in the Senate.”
A special election is set for November 6 to replace Ketchum as justice. This will run alongside the 2018 general election. Candidates interested in seeking election to Ketchum’s unexpired term can file with the Secretary of State’s Office through midnight on August 21.